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World War I has begun. You are
the leader of a European country
and must decide what to do. Your
nation is one of several that have
agreed to support each other in the
event of war. Some of your allies
already have joined the fight. You
oppose the thought of war and
fear that joining will lead to even
more lives lost. Yet, you believe
in being loyal to your allies.
You also worry that your rivals want to conquer all of
Europe—and if you don’t join the war now, your country
may end up having to defend itself all alone.
1. Should you always support a
friend, no matter what he or
she does?
2. What might be the long-term
consequences of refusing to
help an ally?
• Unit Standard: SSWH 16 Understand the longterm causes of World War I and its global
• Objectives: Identify the political and military
forces at work in Europe in the late 1800s. Which
countries made up the Triple Alliance and the
Triple Entente. Summarize the events that set
World War I in motion.
• EQ: How did military buildup, nationalistic
feelings, and rival alliances set the stage for a
continental war?
Read textbook pages 841 – 843.
• Identify the MAIN causes of World War I.
• Identify the members of the Triple Alliance
and the Triple Entente.
World War I
The MAIN Causes of
World War I
• Militarism
• Alliances
• Imperialism
• Nationalism
• Militarism - A policy of glorifying military
power and keeping a standing army always
prepared for war.
• Alliances - close associations of nations or
other groups, formed to advance common
interests or causes. Specifically, in World
War I, a series of defense agreements
involving two or more countries.
• Imperialism – A policy in which a strong
nation seeks to dominate other countries
politically, economically, or socially.
• Nationalism – a belief that people should be
loyal mainly to their nation - that is to the
people with whom they share a culture and
a history – rather than to a king or an
• War in Europe is not a new thing. Often
they had fought over lands back and forth.
• Alsace-Lorraine: two French provinces
lost to Germany as a result of earlier war.
• Bosnia-Herzogovina: Austria absorbed
these as a result of the Balkan Wars.
• Austria-Hungary: transfer so often that
this region had three alphabets, three
religions and eleven or more language
• Nationalism – a deep devotion to one’s
• The rise in nationalism caused intense
competition amoung nations, each seeking
to overpower the other.
Tangled Alliances
• Bismarck (the German Chancellor) forged
many alliances between 1864 and 1871
primarily to isolate France, whom he
considered Germany’s greatest threat.
• He formed an alliance with AustriaHungary and then later with Italy, thus
forming the Triple Alliance. He added an
alliance with Russia to remove another
possible ally from France.
• When Wilhelm II became Kaiser, he forced
Bismarck to resign.
• In addition he allowed some of the alliances
(especially the one with Russia) to lapse and
began a tremendous military build up.
• In response to Kaiser Wilhelm’s alliances
and military buildup, England and France
formed an entente (an alliance). Later
Britain made another entente with both
France and Russia.
• The Triple Entente did not require Britain to
fight with France or Russia, but it almost
certainly ensured that Britain would not
fight against them.
• Competition for colonies (and the natural
resources they provided) in Africa and Asia
pushed European nations to the brink of
• Colonies required the colonizers to maintain
a military force to protect them.
• As European countries continued to
compete for colonies their sense of rivalry
and mistrust of one another deepened.
Turn to textbook page 884.
• Read the History in Depth “The Armenian
• What caused the Armenian Massacre?
Assassination of
the Archduke Franz Ferdinand
• Archduke Franz Ferdinand was
the heir to the throne of the
Austro-Hungarian Empire.
• On June 28, 1914, Gavrillo
Princip, a member of the terrorist
group the Black Hand, shot both
the archduke and his wife.
• The Austro-Hungarian
government didn’t know if the
Serbian government was directly
involved but didn’t care.
• Before the assassination of the archduke the smaller
countries of Europe had a complicated system of
secret treaties that bound them together in the event
of a attack.
• Within hours of the death of the archduke these
alliances came into effect as Austria-Hungary
declares war on Serbia.
• Russia sided with Serbia while Germany sided with
Use the map on the
left to answer the
following questions.
1. Why would
Germans worry
about an alliance
between France
and Germany?
2. Based on the
information on
the map, which
alliance do you
think had the
greater military
advantage in
Kaiser William II
“All the long years of my reign,” William II (1859–
1941) complained, “my colleagues, the monarchs
of Europe, have paid no attention to what I have
to say.” As kaiser, he fought to win respect for
himself and his empire.
William’s rivalry with other rulers was in many
ways a family feud. He and George V of Britain
were cousins, grandchildren of Queen Victoria.
Tsar Nicholas II was a cousin by marriage. When
war broke out in 1914, the kaiser blamed “George
and Nicky.” “If my grandmother had been alive,
she would never have allowed it!” How did the
kaiser’s desire for respect influence his policies?